On a tiny, remote island in the Pacific Ocean, a wild and ragged man stumbles ashore. As rescuers begin to cluster around him, it’s clear that he’s been at sea for a very long time. But as José Salvador Alvarenga’s story begins to unfold, few can believe the epic journey that’s taken him some 6,700 miles from home.
On November 17, 2012, Alvarenga was preparing to leave the village of Costa Azul in Chiapas, Mexico, for a fishing trip. Usually, his friend Ray Perez went with him, but that day Perez was unable to make it. Instead, Alvarenga asked 22-year-old local soccer player to go in Perez’s place.
Ezequiel Córdoba and Alvarenga had never chatted before, let alone work together. But the fisherman promised him $50, and Córdoba agreed. Together, they left Costa Azul aboard Alvarenga’s 25-foot fishing boat. For the next 30 hours, they planned to fish for sharks, sailfish and marlins in the deep ocean.